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German defense minister: Officer in Singapore using insecure line led to Taurus conversation leak

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 5, 2024 2:31 PM 2 min read
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (C) addresses the press at the 2024 Munich Security Conference on Feb. 16, 2024, in Munich, Germany. (Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
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An "individual error" resulted in a call between high-ranking German military officers being leaked after one officer joined the meeting from abroad via an insecure line, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said at a press conference on March 5.

An audio recording of a conversation between German Air Force officers about the delivery of Taurus long-range missiles to Ukraine and the training of Ukrainian troops was published on March 1 by Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Kremlin-controlled TV channel RT, on March 1.

The call was held via Webex videoconferencing software, hosted on German army servers, but "not all participants adhered to the secure dial-in procedure as required," Pistorius said.

In principle, the systems used by the German military are secure, but one participant dialed in from Singapore using an insecure line, according to Pistorius.

Pistorius said that the person in question was in Singapore for an aviation industry trade fair, which was targeted by Russian secret services. They carried out "comprehensive wiretapping operations."

Gaining access to the Webex conference call software was a "random hit," according to Pistorius, who described the leak as "a serious mistake...that should not have happened."

"We will take technical and organizational measures so such an incident does not happen again," Pistorius said.

While a disciplinary investigation is underway, Pistorius said that consequences for individual officers "are not on the agenda" and that he does not plan to "sacrifice my best officers for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's games."

Pistorius previously described the leak as "a hybrid disinformation attack" that aims for "division," according to the German television channel Tagesschau.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson threatens German journalists with expulsion
Russia is ready to expel German journalists in retaliation for any measures taken against Russian journalists in Germany, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova claimed on March 5, according to state-owned media agency RIA Novosti.
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